Internet surveillance cameras don't just aid in the investigation of burglaries, increasingly they're also being used by animal owners keen to discover what their pets are doing when all alone at home. There are around 50 million pets in the UK and according to renowned statistics, dogs (26%) and cats (18%) are the top choices found in households across the country. For a long time, it's been a mystery what they get up to whilst owners are out of the house. In the hit movie, 'The Secret Life of Pets', for example, the dogs throw a party as soon as their owners are out the door, a cat loots the fridge, and Buddy the dachshund makes himself comfortable on his master's favourite sofa.
But what do animals really do when their owners are at work or school? Do Hollywood's scenes correspond with reality? Now, Internet Protocol (IP) cameras are revealing all. "IP cameras for watching animals are a huge trend," says Katharina Wild, a pet security expert, E-book author and member of the board at Smartfrog – a technology company which has developed an easy-to-use and affordable surveillance solution consisting of an app and HD IP camera with video history.
Discover what your pet is doing
"With a security camera you don't just protect against burglaries" said Wild, "you can also check on the well-being of your pet anywhere, at any time. A dog lounging in his owner's bed or opening kitchen cabinets for example; a cat sneakily stashing socks or drinking from a tap. Pets often do funny things, especially when they are alone or feel unobserved" she continued.
But smart surveillance isn't just useful in capturing funny or special moments. "An IP camera can be a useful way to maintain personal contact with an animal or to help understand it better," says behavioural scientist Prof. Dr. med. Kurt Kotrschal from University of Vienna. Cameras also provide increased security in an animal's day-to-day life as behavioural observations recorded by them often give indications of possible sources of danger across the house. If these are eliminated, the home is a much safer place for pets. Likewise, "if users notice their pet behaving strangely it could be a sign it's sick" said Wild. Video recordings could contain vital information which veterinarians and dog trainers can use to make diagnoses, find the right therapy, or impart tips on best dealing with an animal.
A successful animal education with modern technology
"The use of internet cameras to watch dogs is becoming increasingly popular," says dog trainer Frauke Loup, who has worked with numerous human-animal support teams since 2001. Thanks to an integrated microphone and loudspeaker, pet owners can communicate with their animals anytime, anywhere, via smartphone, tablet or PC. "If a user hears their dog barking excitedly, for example, they can address it directly and calm it with their voice. If they receive an alarm because it's jumped on the sofa, they can tell it off straight away", says Wild, recalling examples from recent usages she's witnessed. Smartfrog's "Time Lapse" feature lets users watch 24 hour's worth of recording in just five minutes. If something fun happens, the clip can be saved and shared with friends and family or on social networks.
In her E-book "Sicher auf vier Pfoten, tierisch sicher wohnen" (English translation: "Safety on four paws, living safely with animals") animal security expert Katharina Wild gives many helpful tips on living successfully with dogs, cats etc. One of these tips is: "IP cameras are very useful in everyday life with an animal, but direct contact, playing and petting mustn't be neglected. Pets shouldn't be left alone too long, even if it is difficult for professional reasons."
Smartfrog's animal monitoring camera is easy to use and set up in only five minutes. The monitoring package is available from £4.95 per month (cancellable monthly, no minimum contract period) and includes an IP camera, app and video cloud storage. Up to ten cameras can be managed via the app at any one time and users automatically receive an alarm via push notification or email when movements or noises occur around the home. The "Zone" function also means users can specify a specific area they want to receive notifications from, for example they might want to focus on the living room couch so they can see when the dog has got comfortable on it.
Smartfrog (http://www.smartfrog.com/) is a tech company focused on the “Internet of Things”, which is about making everyday objects more intelligent and connected to the internet, e.g. via an app. The aim is to make the everyday lives of people more comfortable and more secure by making modern technologies user friendly and affordable. For this, Smartfrog has developed a universal IoT-Platform designed to build dedicated solutions across product areas. Having started with security and monitoring as a primary area, it offers an easy-to-use and affordable complete home security solution, so that users can always keep an eye on their home and business at any time and from anywhere. The package starts at €5.95 (£4.95) per month, with no minimum contract period and monthly cancellation. It includes the Smartfrog App, allowing users to manage up to ten cameras, a Smartfrog Cam and video storage.